Are you ready to thoughtfully steer away from your revved up, frenzied and far too often scripted life? Then welcome to the Vroom Vroom Veer with Jeff Smith, where he guides you down the road differently traveled by sharing unique experiences with guests who have managed to shift away from a life stuck on cruise control; and veered their way into a more authentic and fulfilling one in all sorts of interesting and kind of remarkable ways. Get ready to Vroom Vroom Veer, with your differently travelled road chauffeur Jeff Smith.
Jeff: Chris Parker, thank you so much for being on Vroom Vroom Veer and welcome to the show, how’s it going?
Chris: Glad to be here Jeff, doing great.
Jeff: So you are at a whatismyipaddress.com and talk a little bit about what’s going on there today that you’re most excited about other than it’s just paying your bills.
Chris: I am really excited about the fact that it’s paying my bills.
Jeff: I would be too, that would be awesome.
Chris: One of the things that I’m currently working on and really excited about this I’ve done about a dozen interviews with internet privacy and security experts and are going to be rolling out that content for my users and we’ve specifically designed it for people that are not geeks, not technical people, and not to say that it has been dumbed down because it really has been dumbed down, but it’s being communicated in language that we can all understand, things that we can implement, not these jargon all things that people go, “What does that word mean?”
Jeff: This thing, it’s like morphed into something way more than just like a really easy way to figure out what your IP address is which is which, it’s great, so good for you. We’re going to get into all of how that happened but first let’s tease a couple of things because that’s what we do. Later on we’re going to talk about an interesting trip you took to Taiwan as a kind of like a side trip off of a trip to Singapore coming soon, and then we’re also going to talk about some interesting gift ideas for travelers. Before we do all that, let’s go back in time and talk about Chris Parker before the whatismyipaddress.com. Where did you grow up? Where you from?
Chris: I grew up here in the southern California. I’m one of the few actual natives, I’ve lived within probably a 10 mile radius for my entire life.
Jeff: Wow, and you’re in Tustin?
Chris: I’m in Tustin, California and I grew up across the street from UC Irvine.
Jeff: Nice spot, that’s a really nice spot. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to leave.
Chris: It’s really nice until you actually want to have a life and not spend all your money on mortgage and rent.
Jeff: Mortgage, rent, and taxes, I just moved out of LA like last year, this time last year. I was in Torrens, but we went to Tustin quite a bit, there used to be a really good sushi place in Tustin, O’Reilly’s, I don’t know where the hell I was. I also liked, is there a Kombucha place in the quaint little downtown area of Tustin?
Chris: There could be, I don’t spend much time over there, there’s a couple good restaurants but I just hear the word Kombucha and it makes me sick. I’m not even willing to try it. So probably just blocked it out.
Jeff: I understood. I could talk about Kombucha forever, it’s awesome. Anything fermented I really dig. I used to do beer, I used to be a home brewer. I have actually made my own Kombucha at home.
Chris: You know when you say it’s fermented, and you like fermented things, I might be able to get on board with that. I like kimchi, I like other fermented dishes, so maybe I
could once I get my mind around that, I could do it.
Jeff: Once you get into the geeky science of it, then you’d be, oh, okay, interesting. But right now you’re just in the, eww, get that stinky healthy thing away from me.
Jeff: I totally get it. Tustin’s awesome. Okay, so you grew up in Tustin, and then I imagine you go to college somewhere.
Chris: I went to college in a number of places. We started out going to Cal State Fullerton for about a year. I had a hard time there, I’m not a great student. I thought maybe I should dial it back until I really figure out what I want to do, and so I went to the local community college for more years than I would like to disclose.
Jeff: You got nothing on me dude. I took my time, it took me over 20 years to finish a bachelor’s degree.
Chris: I’m more than 20 years and I haven’t finished a degree.
Jeff: Good for you, you got me beat.
Chris: Once I realized that my part time job while I was going to college was paying more than most of my friends who were working full time, I thought I should stop going to school and just work.
Jeff: Wow, what was this part time job?
Chris: Are you a Mac user?
Jeff: I’m not a Mac user. I guess if I had to pick one of the other, I really like Linux. I have Linux and Windows do booty. I am a huge nerd.
Chris: The basic real first job I had was working in sales for a company called Club Mac. We sold Macintosh computers, mail order catalog. We sold those really expensive machines.
Jeff: Yeah, is this in the way back?
Chris: It’ll be on the way back machine, they’ve gotten bought out and transitioned over to a new company since then. I spent quite a few years there and made some good friends there and really enjoyed the process, I learned a lot of stuff there.
Jeff: That means you also got into sales.
Chris: Yes, I actually spent a few years in sales, it was the night and weekend sales manager. I got to wrangle all the high school kids and people who have other jobs that was using that as their way to make money extra. I liked it, it was fun. I don’t know that I wasn’t the best sales person because I was one of those guys who was, well you don’t need the $8000 machine when the $4000 machine will do just fine for you. The sales manager pulled me aside, what are you doing?
Jeff: You don’t get this thing do you?
Chris: You don’t get this thing, you’re supposed to sell up, not sell down.
Jeff: You are too honest.
Chris: It worked for me, there was authenticity behind it, and those people came back to me when they wanted to buy something else, they trusted that I wouldn’t steer them wrong. I didn’t have a high highs that other salespeople had, but I also didn’t have the low lows that other ones had. It was kind of the story of my life, even keeled, stay in the middle.
Jeff: Very moderate, you moderate your moderation with an occasional crazy day or something. So now at some point, you get a corporate job that at which point in I don’t remember when exactly, so talk about what you were doing in the job immediately before or actually you started your website while you were working right?
Chris: Yup, I started it while I was working back at Club Mac. I was also helping out with some IT stuff that was kind of the near the birth of the internet. Helping run the website that’s where I learned how to build websites, I was work on the web development team there. There were some technical issue that we were having with our internet connection and I need to know what our public IP address was, and Google didn’t exist then, and I went on Alta Vista.
Jeff: Alta Vista was my favorite before it went away. It gave the best results in the pre Google world.
Chris: There wasn’t an easy way to find out what your IP address was, that’s easy enough to figure out, I can put a website together that does that, and I took an old Windows NT server 2000 box, dropped it on my home DSL internet connection, and that was the birth of whatismyipaddress.com.
Jeff: Really? It was hosted in your house?
Chris: It was hosted in my house on a 1.5 megabit DSL connection. I don’t think there’s a cellphone on the planet that is not faster than that.
Jeff: Wow, that’s crazy. Was this in the front page days or the Mac equivalent of front page, or were you just typing HTML into some sort of like…
Chris: Gosh, it was running on IIS. There was no graphics, it was just, you went to the page and it was just the IP address, it didn’t say welcome to whatismyipaddress.com, it didn’t tell you what an IP address was. There was just a number on the screen, okay, that’s what I was looking for, thanks.
Jeff: That’s perfect.
Chris: Obviously, I hadn’t thought about sales and marketing at that point.
Jeff: No, but that’s okay, I mean you got what they call the killer app. that’s the feature that people are actually joining up for when they type in that question in Alta Vista. “What my IP address.” Isn’t there a built in thing that does that? I know ping does it, it will translate a DNS, but that doesn’t necessarily give you a home address.
Chris: Correct, it gives you the IP address inside your own network. It doesn’t tell you what the rest of the world sees, it has to be something outside of your network which tells you that.
Jeff: So you mean something like a who is?
Chris: Yeah, kind of like a who is service.
Jeff: Correct, okay, interesting but anyway, a bajillion people out there on the brand-new internet don’t even know what who is, is or ping.
Chris: Ping and who is, is.
Jeff: We’re already being nerds. Okay, so you’re running this thing and it’s on this old NT server running from your house, and you have a job, and everything’s wonderful. But you’re getting traffic right? People are actually using it.
Chris: Yup, at some point, I started getting alerts saying, hard drive space was almost out, and I was like, how could the hard drive space be out of this box, it doesn’t do anything except run this website which does nothing. It turned out, it was the logs. There were so many people using the website that I started running out on hard drives.
Jeff: So you were getting that many users and that was just logging the connections?
Chris: It was just logging the connections, and over, and over, I didn’t think about what I put up, I didn’t think about, “Hey, if there’s going to be logs on this thing, you should turn that off, or even to watch out for it. It was just piling up.
Jeff: So that’s the first indication that you’ve got some attraction here on this plan that you didn’t have.
Chris: Exactly, it’s the one successful business that I’ve had that did not start out as a business idea.
Jeff: That’s great, I love it. Those are the best kind. It’s like okay, you’re a nerd, and you’re hanging around on the internet and you figure out that you’ve got a problem, and you’d like to know what your IP address is and then when you’re finished with that you’re going, you know what? I bet other people would like to know what their IP address is too, I’ll do this. That was easy and then you forget about it and you solved the problem, that’s what business is supposed to do. That’s beautiful. So then what happens next? What’s the next piece of the story?
Chris: The next piece of the story is, I put up a little bit of cosmetic, “Hey, this is what your IP address is. If you have any questions, email me.” that’s like version point one. So people started emailing questions, and I started answering them via email, and I thought, I should just take these questions and just put them on the website as frequently asked questions and I won’t be answering the same question six times a day.
And so I built a FAQ and now there’s more pages on the site, and those pages start getting traffic, and I’m like wow, this is really cool. Some years later, there’s this thing called AdSense that came out, that allowed you to monetize a website.
Jeff: And you’re already getting traffic.
Chris: And I was already getting traffic, well, let’s just stick a little banner on here, and I actually started to make a little bit of money and I said, this is kind of cool, this is neat.
Jeff: Right. So Google exists now and are you ranking on Google for that question?
Chris: Because the website kind of pre existed Google, it actually did rank very well from the beginning.
Jeff: I can imagine because it was around before the algorithm even, it almost maybe gave you like a grandfather credit or something. It’s now our machine overlords.
Chris: Google gave me the wow you’re old, credibility.
Jeff: I take it you actually had to swap out that box at some point.
Chris: That’s a really geeky story in itself. It’s 2018 now, the whatismyipaddress.com had run in my home until about probably 2014.
Jeff: And that was like from before Google?
Chris: Yup, from before Google up until about four years ago, I had a half rack server in my home. I had UPSs in case the power went out, I had really high electricity bills trying to keep the house under 90 degrees, I used up like a T1, a bonded T1, I had a fixed wireless internet connection just trying to get enough bandwidth into my house to support the website.
Jeff: You’re spending way too much money.
Chris: Part of it to me was the really geeky experience of okay, well I’m running my own link balancer, I’m running a load balancer, the servers are here at home, it’s all here, it’s fun, I can touch it.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s like Anton. Did you name your server?
Chris: No, but I have photos of it.
Jeff: That’s great. So that lasted until 2014 and your wife is probably saying, “Why are you spending all this money?”
Chris: Well it wasn’t so much the spending money because there was cash positive, but she’s like, “It just seems to be a really bad idea to have your business income sitting here in our home. If somebody breaks into the house, not only have they broken into the house and stole whatever we have, your business is now gone. Honey, I think you need to get it out of the house.”
Jeff: That’s a good idea, she’s pretty smart.
Chris: She is very smart and I don’t know if you noticed this when you came to Tustin but there’s one particular street in Tustin where there are a half a dozen colocation facilities.
Jeff: Okay, colocation facilities.
Chris: All those places where you can dump your servers and someone else takes care of the electricity, the air conditioning, and the internet. Most places it’s there in major cities, they’re in LA, San Diego, New York, if you’re living somewhere in Nebraska, there’s probably no collocation facility in Nebraska but I have a half a dozen of them to choose from, so I got one that’s probably a mile from my house. So if anything goes wrong with my servers, I can get my car, drive down there, take care of it in five minutes and drive home.
Jeff: Wait a minute, I didn’t even know such a thing existed. So this collocation service site is basically like they’re providing you power, and power redundancy, and HVAC redundancy, and then you show up with all your own hardware, are they giving you the connectivity or are you paying for that yourself?
Chris: You pay for everything.
Jeff: But you’re leasing some sort of bandwidth from them.
Chris: Correct. They provide bandwidth that they charge you based on what you use, and then for a fixed price, they give you a cabinet, and they give you electricity.
Jeff: And some HVAC.
Chris: Yeah, and they give you redundant power, redundant HVAC.
Jeff: And it’s probably going to be cheaper too.
Chris: It was like a quarter of the amount. It was cheaper.
Jeff: Way cheaper.
Chris: They have economies of scale that I just can’t get in my home.
Jeff: Have you ever watched the TV show Silicon Valley?
Chris: I’ve heard it, I have not watched it yet.
Jeff: You’ll love it. for the first couple seasons, they ran a server out of the garage, every time now that you’re talking about this, I’m thinking, he’s got a half rack and then he’s killing himself with AC, he’s got wires going everywhere.
Chris: I’ll see if I can send you one of the photos of that, you’ll get a kick out of it.
Jeff: Please, I will get a kick out of it because all nerds want to do that. At least for a little while until you can say I’ve done that, I did that, and then you’re going, okay, now I’m done, but it was awesome. I guess like somewhere around 2014 you got laid off.
Chris: Yup, I had a transition to working for an online life insurance broker and was helping them sell lots of life insurance, then the economy unfortunately tanked and went through some ups and downs with that. The company tried to hold on assuming that it would just be a six-month thing and it turned into a year thing, they trickled everybody off over time unfortunately, we got rounds of layoffs, down to, “Hey Chris, we can’t afford to pay you full time, can you work part time for us?” the initial responses is like all my gosh what I’m going to do, but it actually really helped the transition to being fully self employed because I still had some fixed income, and my wife and I sat down and said, “Hey can we live off a little bit less for awhile and see if I can make a go of this? What if I worked an extra 20 hours a week on my business? I think I could grow it.” That’s what I did for awhile and the company actually came back for a while, I went back to work for them full time, and then the same sort of thing happened again, it’s like, no, we can’t do it, we got to let you go.
Jeff: So you got all the way laid off.
Chris: I got completely laid off, and again, my wife and I had the same discussion of like, “Okay do I go get a full time job, or do I give my own business 40 hours a week and see what I can do with it?” And so, we talked about it, we got a little money in the bank, we can afford to bleed for a little bit, let’s do six months and we’ll re evaluate in six months. I did six months of it and I was able to grow the revenue and grow the traffic to the site over that six months, and that six months turned into another six-month agreement, and then a year agreement, and it’s now a perpetual agreement.
Jeff: Talk a little bit about what the site looked like at a couple of points there. I know it started off as just spitting out the IP address, and then later on it turned into like, “Hey, if you have any questions, send me an email.” you had an FAQ. At some point I guess you must have had some sort of graphical interface when you started putting up your AdSense ads. Walk through a couple iterations of say like that first layoff, what did it look like at that point.
Chris: It looked hideous.
Jeff: Okay, describe the hideousness.
Chris: It was really squarish, ugly blue bars, I’m not a graphic designer, there was no graphics, there were just horrible heavy lines, it was just a bar at the top, a bar at the bottom, and a wall of text.
Jeff: Got it okay, and you’re still sticking your banner ads in there somewhere.
Chris: Yup, we’re still sticking banner ads in there.
Jeff: Are those text based banner ads or graphical banner ads? They started out as text right?
Chris: Yeah, Google AdSense was originally just purely text, and mixed on a number of technologies over the years with that work in conjunction with AdSense. These days AdSense, you see it on almost every site out there now. It’s a mix of graphics, and a mix of text, whatever seems to work best on that particular site. I hired a graphic artist who comes in and actually give it some style, give it some flow, make it actually look decent as opposed to it looking like it was made by a programmer which is square.
Jeff: It’s just invisible to you, it’s like whatever, it works.
Chris: Exactly. It’s a functional reform all the way.
Jeff: I get it. At what point did you start adding in more blog type features.
Chris: It’s been a couple of years, it was probably around the time that I got laid off, I really started work heavily on producing content that was accessible, easy to u
understand. I’ve got content writers, and graphic artists that write stuff for me and sign stuff for me because I, unfortunately, write like a coder also.
Jeff: That’s good, at least you know what you’re good at.
Chris: Yes, so that was one of the things that I had to learn. There are things that I’m good at, and the things that I’m not, and I need to pay people to do the things that I’m not good at in order for it to look good for other people.
Jeff: Gotcha, now I know it was kind of slow but because you already had like, you existed the website as a service existed before Google, when you started putting up AdSense, did the money start flowing in like immediately, just walk us through sort of like how the different phases of income. First it started out, I put up one and I got $30 in a month, something like that, the humble beginnings.
Chris: Exactly, it’s like slowing is a relative term. A trickle of water is flowing. That’s really what it’s been, trying to find ads, and sizes, and partners to work with that are not obnoxious. Unfortunately, I have to admit, way back in the days, I did some obnoxious ads, have some obnoxious pop ups, and pop unders, and overs, and learned very quickly that people hate those things. Everything on the internet is a commodity so they will go elsewhere. I very quickly learned to balance my desire to pay my bills with what people on the site will tolerate. I’ve worked hard not to push that line, and there’s all these exotic ad types out there these days. They slide in, they slide up, they slide down, they fade in, fade out. They pay lots of money but they really annoy people, so I really try to avoid things and avoid disenfranchising, annoying, patronizing. I try to always view my site as would I be willing to go here, or would I find a different solution.
Jeff: Good idea.
Chris: there’s definitely sites out there that, “Hey, there’s this really neat story about this.” and you get there and it’s three words per page, and 40 ads, next page, next page, gosh I can’t do that.
Jeff: Yeah, you have to just stop.
Chris: I won’t do it anymore, I never did. I definitely don’t want to be a hypocrite, I don’t want to do things on my website that me as a user of somebody else’s website wouldn’t want to do. That’s kind of been my motto, trying to find that balance of what works for everybody, me, my advertisers, and most importantly the people who are using the website.
Jeff: Would you get to pick what ad shows up?
Chris: No. Kind of yes, but not really. The way it works these days is, almost everything is keyword based, it’s interest based, if you’ve been looking at Nike shoes and you come to my website, guess what, you’re going to see an ad for Nike shoes.
Jeff: Oh right, the tracking ads.
Chris: It’s all the tracking that goes on with Google and Facebook and everybody. It can be good, it can be bad, depending on how you look at it. I don’t like being shown ads for Nike shoes six months after I’ve already bought my pair.
Jeff: You know the other thing that I’ve had to turn off and this is, now that your site has kind of morphed into a computer security kind of adviser site a lot you, know it’s sort of like almost an internet privacy kind of site now, when I started driving around, and this is recent, within say the last year or so where your phone will say, “Hey, you’re here. Will you take a picture for us?” I was just like, what the hell are you doing phone? I didn’t ask you to help me get here, why do you know I’m here? Because it’s just on, and it’s like Google’s got this thing where it’s like, if you don’t tell Google not to track you, it will track you everywhere. It’s nuts and then when you try to turn it off, it ruins the functionality which is really annoying.
Chris: Yeah, everyone’s got to find that new balance of how invasive do you want this to be. When it’s in our favor, we want it, when it’s not in our favor, we don’t want it. People have to figure out what works for them.
Jeff: Right, and it’s how bad do you want to be able to have Google remember where your house is. That was my question, do I want Google to ask me to take a picture every time I go everywhere? No, I really don’t. But if I want that feature to go away, that means that I’ve turned off my Google timeline, is I think it’s what they call it. When you don’t have that on, then every time you go to the search window and you start typing stuff in, it’s not there anymore. So you have to actually type in your home address when you want to go home, which is slightly a pain in the ass but it’s worth it for me.
Chris: And everybody has a different tolerance for what they’re willing to accept for the convenience that it brings them.
Jeff: Now in the story, we’ve already gotten to the point where it’s making enough money where you don’t need to have a job anymore, how long did that take? So if you started in 2014, did your Google AdSense revenue start paying the bills within that year?
Chris: Yeah, it turned out to be a pretty smooth transition because, I had more time to find additional vendors to augment AdSense, and time to work on things with affiliate programs for products that were perfectly targeting my audience. It actually turned out to be maybe unfortunately for the people that are hearing the story, it was actually a pretty smooth transition. It was scary up front but it actually worked out pretty smooth. Within six months to a year it was covering the difference from my daytime job and then some.
Jeff: Nice, good for you, and you’re having fun.
Jeff: You’re providing a service, you’re being a nerd.
Chris: I’m doing stuff I like, a lot of times we’re not, unfortunately, a lot of our jobs were not necessarily doing what we like to do.
Jeff: Amen, no, no, a lot of times doing our jobs and you’re just going, okay I suffered through another day, give me a paycheck, yes that sucks. Nobody wants to be there. Okay so, at what point did you start getting into making partnerships with VPN type software? When did that become a thing?
Chris: I wish I had learned about these companies way earlier because a lot of them or variations of them have existed for a long time and I could have worked with them way sooner. The last couple of years has been really good with them obviously with net neutrality going away, and everybody afraid of what their ISPs are snooping on them, and what the government’s looking at what I’m doing here, is that government looking at what I’m doing there. A lot of people are a lot more concerned about it. It’s provided a significant driver of interest in that area.
Jeff: Yeah, I just got a VPN this year. It wasn’t any specific thing other than, I think I listened to a network security person on a podcast, and he gave all these things but I think the number one thing was, if you don’t have a VPN, get one now. Everybody should be using a VPN because nobody should be looking at what you’re doing on the internet. I don’t care who they are. It doesn’t cost that much, it’s probably true.
Chris: That’s particularly true when you’re using the Wifi at the Starbucks, or your Mom and Pop restaurants.
Jeff: When you’re doing banking, the security on the internet is good but I mean, how much of that HTTPS do you really want to trust, that was my thing.
Chris: Not everything is secure, there are other things that when secure connections don’t work, they fall back to other things. Then there’s just that, do you trust the ability of the guy who has this great food restaurant, is he a good network manager? Is he maintaining his hardware, is he making software patches to make sure that in his network hasn’t been compromised? I don’t think so. Not say that it has been compromised, but I trust the chef to make good food, not to provide the network security while I’m sitting outside in the café, that’s not his job.
Jeff: Yeah, I was out of town, we went to Salt Lake City over Memorial Day weekend and in the hotel that I was staying in, I don’t know why but there was this what looked like a combination like housekeeper storage space/server rack. the door was pinned open, and I was looking at the server rack going, wow, okay, there’s my credit card number right over there. They just don’t get it. I had a thought like, should I go to the front desk, and then I was like, whoever I talk to, it’s not going to help. There’s nobody here that gets it, nobody onsite.
Chris: That’s one of the huge problems with privacy and security these days is that, the frontline people, the people that you interact with, they don’t know anything about it, “Okay, sure, I’ll tell my boss.” at the end of the shift, “Hey, I think the server room door was open.” Okay, and it loses the importance of you know, give me 30 seconds with a thumb drive and I’ll own that server, anything that’s on it, I’ve got access to.
Jeff: Crazy, just insane. Whatever, what are you going to do? You’re going to have a site trying to teach people.
Jeff: We teased a couple of things, and we know that now that you don’t have a job, and you can work anywhere you want, you can travel a lot and also I learned that your wife is from Singapore, my wife is from Japan so we both spend some time in Asia. You told me a little bit about this interesting trip that you took as a side trip to Taiwan from Singapore, describe.
Chris: So my wife and I, we tried to visit her family in Singapore every other year, so we’re fortunate enough to be able to do that. She gets some good vacation time at her gig, and with me working for myself, I can work anywhere in the world that has an internet connection, and Singapore, for any foodies out there, you have to go to Singapore. Some of the best, cheapest food on the planet, you can walk in any restaurant, any establishment and you’ll have great food. on the way back from one of our recent trips there, my wife’s company was nice enough to have her rest, stop by one of their corporate offices in Taiwan on the way back, and it picked up a little of the cost of our trip which is always nice. It’s always great when someone else pays for you to travel.
Jeff: Amen. Even if it’s your own business.
Chris: Well, it was her business, not mine, I paid for mine, she got to pay for hers.
Jeff: Okay, so you’re on half their dime.
Chris: Yeah, partly on their dime, and for whatever reason, for my wife and I, one of us always gets sick either the week before the trip, the week after the trip, or during the trip. On this trip it was her turn, and she got sick during the trip. As we’re leaving Singapore flying to Taiwan it really stinks to be sick and on a long haul flight. It’s just absolutely miserable.
Jeff: Because you’re trapped in all those lines.
Chris: You’re trapped, it’s noisy, you can’t sleep, it’s uncomfortable, the air pressure changes.
Jeff: When you’re not sick, it sucks.
Chris: Yeah, when you’re sick, it’s even worse. something happened to us when we left the plane that you don’t see here in the states is, we exit the plane, you’re wandering around trying to figure out where customs is, and from there, where your luggage is going to be, and we start going down this long hallway, and at the far end of the long hallway, there’s a medical station, and there’s people there with masks on, and they’re pointing infrared cameras at all the passengers coming out of the plane.
They’re looking for people who are sick so they can quarantine them because you don’t want to bring all sorts of crazy stuff into the country, and I know my wife is sick, and I’m like, honey stand behind me, always keep me between you and the cameras, keep to my right, keep my left, and so we got through it, got to our hotel and what not, and there’s even a fun story about that. We were told by some people that, don’t worry, most people in Taiwan speak English and our cab driver did not. He didn’t even understand what we’re trying to say, Taipei 101, Hyatt next to Taipei 101, he’s like, “I don’t know.”
Thank goodness that when you use Waze in a foreign country, and type in the address, it switches it to the local language. Who would have funk it, showed him the phone and we got to the hotel. And course my wife is sick during the entire business trip there, she’s in and out of the office a couple times. She was so sick, I started to get sick at the end, here we are in another country ready to explore, and we basically spent almost the whole trip stuck in the hotel, sick.
Jeff: Lovely. Hey you know what though, it is it is totally part of world travel that just because you’re having a good time doesn’t mean that your body is going to play along all the time. I think my wife has got like me beat on getting sick during a travel, or after a travel. I think we were in Japan and we went to I think Nagasaki, and we flew down there and the day that we got there, I think I had like 103 temperature. I’m feeling like death warmed over. when I wake up, I just can’t even move, I’m just like, I’m taking the day off, she’s like, “Bye.” She’s like, “Sorry you feel sick, bye.”
She spends the whole day doing her thing, and sightseeing, and whatever, and I’m trying to keep liquids in unsuccessfully, and watching Japanese TV, and moaning in this very small hotel room. Not fun but thankfully, it only lasted about that day, and then I was able to recover and get back on the road. It’s no fun, it’s definitely not fun being sick on travels, and that brings up another idea, being sick on travel, you’ve got an interesting gift idea for travelers, it’s more like a suggestion for a gift.
Chris: Yeah, I thought it would be really neat to start a barf bag of the month club. Everyone who is part of this club, every time you travel, you take a bag from the airline, they’re free, and we start this great collection of barf bags.
Jeff: Okay, and what are going to use them for?
Chris: I’ve got this friend, great guy, but has the weakest stomach on the planet. Weak enough that he can’t even walk his dog because he can’t pick up the dog poop without barfing. I thought it would be great if I could collect those and send those to him for his birthday.
Jeff: Or just you know, if the club existed, he could just sign up. I know they already have all those poo bags, so maybe they need to start putting an extra, like a barf bag next to the poo bag.
Chris: It’s like a combo pack.
Jeff: One for you, one for the dog. This has been a blast. So if people want to know more about whatismyipaddress.com, you know, there’s a lot of stuff going on there. There’s nothing for sale, so that’s good, they’re not even going to ask you for your email or your name, kind of rare these days. You can still find what your IP address is, but there’s also a ton of good information. There’s forums, all kinds of stuff, talk a little bit about what the favorite thing is on your site that’s maybe new. You could test your VPN to if your VPN’s working.
Chris: That’s one of the most common uses of the site, is that our people are testing to make sure their VPN is working, they visit the site with it off, they turn it on, come back, okay the number changed, I’m good, I’m safe. These days you have a lot of people that are heck if you’re a small business person and you get people buying stuff from you, and you get the biggest order of your life, it’s good to check to make sure it’s not a scam order. One of the businesses I ran, I was selling Bibles online and my biggest order was a fraudulent Bible order. I think there’s a special place in hell reserved for someone who’s going to steal a Bible. But it just goes to show you, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling online, someone wants to steal it. it’s always good to do a little due diligence most ecommerce platforms will show you the IP address of the person who’s making the purchase, and you can plug it into my site and get an idea where the person is, if they say they’re in sunny southern California but it actually turns out they’re in Nigeria, you might not want to ship that order.
Jeff: I was like, how do we check. Maybe they’re using a VPN.
Chris: Yes, it’s possible but you know there should be some due diligence, Hey I noticed that you say you’re in southern California but…
Jeff: Why is your IP address saying you’re in Nigeria.
Chris: Exactly, and if the answer comes back that, I’m a military contractor in Special Forces, and therefore I have to do it this way, run.
Jeff: Good answer. Just as a public service, have you heard of this, it’s called the white van scam?
Chris: No, I haven’t heard of it, tell me about it.
Jeff: Okay, this isn’t internet, this is in the real world, it’s a scam. I looked it up on the internet. A couple of weeks ago…
Chris: It must be true.
Jeff: It happened to me, so that’s why I was just confused as to what the whole scam was so I was walking out of a job interview, I didn’t get the job, that’s okay. It turns out I didn’t really want it. It was a call center supervisor, so I would have been like the boss of five or six phone operators and would have been taking calls all night on the mid shift.
Chris: Not the most exciting thing.
Jeff: No, but anyway. As I’m walking out of the office building, this dude drives up to me in a truck, I think it was a pickup or an SUV or something, and he’s like, “Hey, this is so weird I got this extra TV, you want it?” And I’m like, no I don’t. Right but he’s very insistent, he’s like, “Come on, I mean it’s extra, it’s like they ordered two and we got three. It’s like a shipping error, you can just have it, it’s free.” And I’m like, “No, it’s all right, I don’t need a TV.” And I’m just walking to my car.
Now he’s getting belligerent he’s like, “Well you’re not very smart are you?” and I’m like, “No, I’m not, I’m not smart at all.” and then I drive away. I’m like what is the scam. What happens is their opening line is it’s free. then if you engage with them, then what they’re going to do is start selling you the fact that it’s this $8,000 or $10,000 TV and they’re only going to charge you $300 or they’re only going to charge you $500, or something gobs less. The scam is that it’s either a box with nothing in it, or it’s a TV that doesn’t turn on, or it is a TV, it does turn on, it does work, but it’s somehow not even worth what they’re charging you for. I guess this is one of those things that like even if you tell the police, they’re not really doing anything illegal. It’s like a buyer beware kind of situation. If you pay somebody cash for something, you better make sure it works.
Chris: You know what, now that I think about it, that happened to me in college. I was coming out of the grocery store and someone said, “Hey, I’ve got these great stereo speakers that you can put in your car, I got an extra set.” Of course I’m like, what do I care about speakers.
Jeff: Okay, you didn’t care, had it been a server.
Chris: If it was a server I would have been, “Oh really?” I’m a little bit suspicious about some random guy driving around with servers in his car, that’s a big red flag.
Jeff: Well right away I was just like, I’m in them in the mindset of anybody giving me an offer that’s too good to be true, it’s not true, just keep walking. Well this has been a blast, I will give you the last word, whatever you want to say, if there’s folks that want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?
Chris: Anyone can visit whatismyipaddress.com how about that, and for anyone who wants to send me a barf bag, the address is on the site, unused please. It’s probably illegal to ship those ones, but the unused ones, if you want to send me one, it would be hilarious. The physical mailing address is on the contact page on the website.
Jeff: Gotcha, okay and maybe we should start that club, barf bag of the month club.
Chris: You know what? I might just do that. It would be humorous website to have. I better go register it before the broadcast airs.
Jeff: Alright brother, this has been a blast. Thank you.
Chris: Thank you Jeff, have a great day.
Jeff: You too, bye.
Thanks for taking the time to ride along with us on another episode of Vroom Vroom Veer. For podcast info and show notes, be sure to head over to vvveer.com, man that’s fun to say, and we’ll catch up with you next time here on Vroom Vroom Veer.
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